It’s enough to make you crazy. People of size are constantly asked to exercise, but are criticized for neglecting to look like supermodels while they are doing it. Sometimes in the same article we are told not only that we need to get off the couch and exercise but also, please, for the love of all that is holy do it somewhere in private where there is positively no chance the “enlightened author” will have to look at us. Is it any wonder some of us get fed up with exercise?
It seems that even for those in the highest and most prestigious positions in the land are especially vulnerable to attack while exercising. I’m not talking about physical attack. Those secret service dudes are serious business. I’m talking about emotional attacks that play out in traditional and social media. I was struck by this recent piece in the Telegraph entitled George Osborne horror pic: Why do Fat Politicians go Jogging in Public. Seriously. For realz. A major paper published an opinion piece by one of the EDITOR of their blogs complaining that politicians who don’t sport a perfectly toned and tanned body need to exercise in a gym, far away from they prying eyes of the public.
And this is by no means a new development. Bill Clinton was ribbed endlessly for his public jogging pictures–and not just during his presidency. When new Bill Clinton and Al Gore jogging photos surfaced in 2011, it made NATIONAL NEWS for crying out loud.
Even incredibly talented and extremely accomplished professional and Olympic athletes are expected to look like supermodels at all times. I mean when an African American gymnast wins one of the most highly coveted medals of the 2012 Olympics we still feel the need to spend news cycles talking about her hair being a little bit messy. Because as we all know, Olympic athletes are all about teh sexy. And as the inimitable Ragen Chastain points out, even winning Wimbledon doesn’t prevent snarky newscasters from expressing their disappointment that the winning tennis star doesn’t meet their personal standards for personal attractiveness.
I blame Sports Illustrated. Not only do they have a swimsuit edition, which requires the featured women to have exactly enough athletic prowess to pose nearly naked on a beach for a few hours.
Is it any wonder that so many of us feel so very intimidated by the notion of going out to exercise in public? Is it any wonder that many of us who can’t afford designer workout wear, fake tans, liposuction and a secret service team feel like we can’t be seen on public streets working up a sweat. And once we get up the courage to get out there and stumble along, yet find ourselves facing some stupid kid hollering insults or making animal noises out the window at us, will we do it again? Will we lace up our sneakers, head out the door and face more abuse?
With all the outcry about lack of physical activity in this country, I think we need to spend less time idealizing “athletes” who have their own hair and makeup people and personal stylists and spend more time making fitness safe for the rest of us. We need to make more places that are physically safe for us to walk the dogs, ride our bikes and even run our untanned, unretouched chubby legs down the street. And we need to create a culture that makes exercise emotionally safe for people who don’t happen to look like supermodels.
The Fat Chick
P.S. Dear friends, starting tomorrow at 10 AM Pacific Time, we will be streaming live from the Size Diversity Task Force Big Fat Flea Market in Los Angeles. YOU CAN PARTICIPATE EVEN IF YOU ARE NOWHERE NEAR CALIFORNIA. You can buy raffle tickets online and you could win one of over fifty prizes with a total value of over $1,000. You can also use our live streaming feature to connect virtually with one of our personal shoppers. They will hand select clothing just for you and send it out via priority mail. This all happens TOMORROW, and you so DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS!